Zomaris:Khanate Rising/Chapter 07
Chapter #7: Everything's Better with Princesses
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN SESSION---
<mainstreet> "Uh. We use gold and silver, like everyone else," Gaart replies.
<Magwitch> "Makes sense."
<Capn_Mercy> "Do giants normally trade with outsiders?"
<Fir> "Will any of the giants mind if I walk up to the well? And perhaps drop a grape in?"
<Nergui> "Will they mind us being there, period?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Fir, considering that someone went to a lot of trouble to poison the well, I doubt they'd leave it unprotected."
<mainstreet> "Uh, we don't normally have too many outsiders in the camp. Not too many brave the desert. Plus, the city would try to kill us if they knew where we were."
- Fir thinks. "Hmm. What if I turn into a vine, and you carry me up to the well, and then I turn back into myself, drop the grape in, and turn back into a vine real quick?"
- Magwitch tweaks the feather in its cap and the halfling morphs in shape to look just like a giant. Well, either a giant that's very very far away, or a one-and-a-half-foot-tall giant.
<Magwitch> "Would this seem less suspicious to the resident giants?"
<mainstreet> Gaart growls at Fir. "Destroying our water source is not the answer."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy eyes Magwitch. "Maybe if you stay at a distance and shout like you're far away..."
<Fir> "If your water is poisoned, then the grape spell could unpoison it. And wine tastes good."
<mainstreet> "Wine is not water."
<Magwitch> "Does wine turn into vinegar after a while?"
<Fir> "It won't *all* turn to wine, just, like, the top couple feet. The watertable will be fine. But the stuff you drink first will be safer for awhile."
<Capn_Mercy> "He's right, Fir. They need clean water, not booze. They're already drugged up, we don't need them drunk too."
<Fir> "Drunk is way better than drugged," Fir mutters.
<Fir> "Plus, this wine makes people smart, for some reason, instead of regular drunk."
<Capn_Mercy> "Perhaps, but both drunk *and* drugged is worst of all. We should see if we can find this mystery woman. Does she stay here in the village?"
<Capn_Mercy> "...what, really?"
<mainstreet> "This is news to Gaart."
<mainstreet> "This might be a good idea after all."
<mainstreet> "And no, the woman doesn't stay in the village. We don't know where she lives. She comes by every few days."
<Capn_Mercy> "When's she due next?"
<mainstreet> "It's not regular. But it can't be too much longer, it's been a few days already."
<Fir> "I can't do the spell from here."
<mainstreet> "Unless I missed her last night."
<Nergui> "Assuming she comes in the next few days, where would we stay without getting possibly attacked by drugged giants?"
<mainstreet> Gaart shrugs.
- Fir transforms into a vine.
<Capn_Mercy> "So...how do we get down there without being spotted?"
<mainstreet> "Beats me."
<Nergui> "Better question...how do we get the giants to let us be there? I...might have an answer."
<Magwitch> "That sounds worthwhile considering" the resonant baritone sounds wrong coming from a Tiny Giant.
- Fir transforms back. "If Gaart carries me to the well, I cast the spell, then he carries me back here...then we can wait for them to be less crazy before we approach.."
<Capn_Mercy> "I suppose that would work. Gaart belongs here, after all."
<Nergui> "Kiyomi and I happen to know a few things about the nobility. If they think they're Eric, then we could possibly leverage that."
- Fir transforms into a vine again and waits for Gaart.
<Nergui> "If you really want to try stealth...maybe I won't stop you. But you could let Kiyomi and I talk to them."
<Capn_Mercy> "What would that accomplish, exactly? Try to convince them they're not actually Erics?"
<Magwitch> "If we try diplomacy and it doesn't work, is stealth a viable backup plan or will they be hostile and vigilant? If we try stealth first and get spotted, is diplomacy a viable backup plan or will they be hostile?"
<Nergui> "No, this actually relies on them wholeheartedly believing they are Eric. And if it doesn't work...then we would probably have to run and try something else later."
<Magwitch> "There's quite a bit of desert to run into. Gaart, how well does your tribe know the dunes outside the camp? Do they go there much?"
<Capn_Mercy> "We could do both. The well needs to be neutralized, if nothing else. Then we can try dealing with the giants."
- Fir waits patiently in vine form for the party to decide.
<mainstreet> "We go towards the river to get food. Not so much into the deeper desert."
<Nergui> "Yes, it is possible Kiyomi and I could distract many of them at once. You may try something with the well in the meantime."
<Nergui> "Regardless, a decision must be made. Do you want Kiyomi and I to talk to the giants while you do whatever you decide to do?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Soudns like a plan. Nergui and her sidekick can distract he giants away from the well, while Gaart and Fir do their thing."
<Capn_Mercy> "And I'll...uh...wait here, I guess...?"
<mainstreet> Gaart nods. "One vine transport, coming up," he grabs Fir and starts hauling her towards the well.
- Fir waves some vine leaves to indicate agreement, a gesture that is probably meaningless to everyone.
<Nergui> Kiyomi mumbles something about having a bad feeling about this
<mainstreet> As he goes through the camp, a few giants nod at him and mutter meaningless commentary. "Hi Eric." "Hi Eric." "Hi Eric." and so on.
<Magwitch> "I hope Fir's safe and Gaart doesn't get roped into drinking another dose and turning into Eric once more."
- Nergui takes her helmet off and carefully approaches the camp, cleaver safely on her back, one hand in the air, and Kiyomi shortly behind her
- Magwitch keeps a sharp lookout, on watch for this woman stranger, should she approach from the dunes or be currently present in the camp.
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy idly wonders what would happen if Fir drank wine.
<mainstreet> The giants turn and look. A few frown. "Hey, what are you doing in this camp?" a few giants comment.
<mainstreet> Nergui: You hear very specifically that *one* giant said something a *little* different: "Hey, what are YOU doing back in the Meterrian Empire?"
<mainstreet> Nergui: You're instantly aware of what that giant is referring to, and you know for sure you've found the real Eric. Easy as pie.
- Nergui turns to that one giant and gestures at him. "May Kiyomi and I speak with you, Eric?"
<mainstreet> The Eric in question frowns. "I'm not going to help you. I like my head attached to my shoulders. Even if I'm a giant."
<Nergui> "No, *I* am here to help *you*. Tell me, what can I do to help you?"
<mainstreet> Eric booms a laugh. "There's a lot you could do to help me, but I'm not sure any of it is worth the price. From you. And the baggage that is going to entail. I still have a daughter to think of. She's a Baroness, not the daughter of a traitor."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy listens intently. Or at least lacadasially.
<Nergui> "And what's the price of staying here? Here, where you can't defend your daughter?"
<Nergui> "You have her to think about, after all. I don't want any harm to come to her, but I bet there are people who do."
<mainstreet> Eric sighs. "You're not wrong. But there might be a solution that arrives. We still have the fundamental problem that I don't want to be associated with a rebellion, because that would be more dangerous. You are of course *intimately* well aware that House Metros doesn't tolerate even unintentional or inevitable violations of the Law, especially from the leadership of the Empire."
<Nergui> "You have few options here, Eric. What solutions are you thinking might arrive, if not me? Another princess?"
<mainstreet> "Literally anyone or anything that *isn't* a daughter of House Metros trying to engage in a rebellion and practically guaranteeing my death would be acceptable. Or, I suppose, convince me that you actually *will* be on the Throne of Ra before I get executed."
<Fir> While everyone is distracted by the loud booming giant and the loud booming non-so-giant, Fir transforms back from a vine into a more humanoid plant shape. She quietly whispers a word to herself, touches a grape to her eye, then drops it in the well. She quickly transforms back into a vine and waits for the only not-Eric giant around to carry her away.
<mainstreet> Fir: Unfortunately for you, Gaart is focused on the discussion and doesn't move.
<mainstreet> Fir: Fortunately for you, your spell seems to have worked. You can see the wine in there.
<Nergui> "It's not going to be Princess Abril who brings you back. It'll be Nergui. No one else has recognized me so far."
<mainstreet> Eric laughs at that. "I did. Immediately."
- Fir quickly transforms back, taps Gaart on the knee, then transforms into a vine yet again.
<mainstreet> Gaart looks down and very visibly slaps his forehead, in full view of everyone. Fortunately, not many notice. Gaart grabs the vine and heads back to where Mercy is.
<Nergui> "Well, I don't even have to be there when you return. I have minions."
<Nergui> "And she's not talking about just me. There are others," Kiyomi pipes up.
<mainstreet> "I suppose not... if you're completely certain your presence won't be noticed, I will accept your aid."
<Nergui> "Good. I will help you. Now, tell me about how you came to be here."
<mainstreet> Eric sighs. "Amirith. Amirith is trying to force me into marrying her. She designed this curse for me. Comes every few days to see if I've caved in. But I can't. And all the other giants. I think cleaning the water would lift the general confusion on most giants, but if you try that she'll know and probably come straight here to attack."
- Fir , back with Mercy, transforms one last time into her not-as-viny form. Upon hearing Eric's words, she immediately begins looking around for The Lady.
<mainstreet> Kiyomi, Nergui: You're not too sure of any details, but that '-th' name ending is a huge red flag to you. While not all people with a -th name are necessarily dragons... all dragons have that -th ending, and the name in general sounds juuuust nonhumanoid enough that you're confident it is, in fact, a dragon name.
<Nergui> "...is Amirith what I think she is?" Nergui asks
<mainstreet> Nergui: This being the desert, and your recollection from earlier about a lightning attack, you're also aware that it's probably a *blue* dragon.
<mainstreet> "Almost certainly, if you're the intelligent Princess I know you are."
<Nergui> "I don't know all that much about dragons...despite my heritage. The rumors of me being part lizardfolk are false, to say the least."
<mainstreet> Eric gives a smile. "So your grandmother, I take it? Or further back?" He shrugs. "In any case, you still have to deal with this curse before I can do much."
<mainstreet> Fir: You hear a distinct roar coming closer. From the air.
- Fir points in the direction she hears the sound. "Look!" she calls out.
<mainstreet> You all, including the giants, turn to the sight. Sure enough, a blue dragon is coming in for a rapid landing. "WHO MESSED WITH THE WELL? I SAID DRINK, NOT THROW THINGS INTO IT!" she booms loudly. Some of the giants start to run away.
<Fir> "Maybe we should have already told the giants to drink from it," Fir whispers to Mercy, hiding behind the much taller human.
<Nergui> "Ah, I didn't expect to meet you so soon," Nergui says as calmly as she can manage
<mainstreet> The dragon lands into the sand near the well, throwing sand everywhere. "Well what did you EXPECT with someone messing with my well? Wait a second... humans aren't supposed to be here at all! LEAVE THIS PLACE AT ONCE, HUMANS!""
<Nergui> "Not yet. Not until we talk."
<mainstreet> "What is there to talk about? These lands belong to me and the giants! Go back to the river!"
<Fir> "Not a human, speciesist," Fir mutters under her breath, still hiding behind Mercy, far away from the action at the well.
<Nergui> "One thing we could talk about is what you want with Eric."
<mainstreet> "Why should I talk about that with you?" she growls.
<Nergui> "Because I want to know why you want to marry him. Is it love? Not impossible, since I do believe my grandmother loved my grandfather. For power? He's not even the highest ranked noble standing in front of you."
- Fir ever-so-quietly pulls a vial out of the bag that Molly is carrying. She hands it to Mercy and whispers, "If fighting breaks out, drink this to get there quicker."
<Capn_Mercy> "What is it?"
<Fir> "Slipstream concoction. Water will carry you faster."
<mainstreet> Amirith sighs. "Well, a bit of both, really, but I suppose mostly the latter. But he doesn't love me, or he would've agreed right away. And while I'm sure you're lovely, dear, I want children, eventually, and so am not really interested in that. I want a partner, but I am one of the world's apex predators, I will not mate with some mere commoner. A Baron of the Meterrian Empire is acceptable, I suppose, and he is rather cute.
<mainstreet> When he's in his normal form."
<Capn_Mercy> "Cute? Eew."
<Fir> "Do we know any other nobles who might be more willing to mate with her?" Fir whispers to Mercy.
<Capn_Mercy> "Eew eew eew eew EEW."
<Fir> "Does Nergui have a brother?"
<Capn_Mercy> "...besides, I don't know any nobles, period."
<Nergui> "Doesn't mean we can't work together. One day, I will take back my claim to the throne, and I'll remember everyone who helped me along the way."
<Capn_Mercy> "...at least, I *thought* I didn't. Nergui is royalty? Seriously?
- Fir shrugs. "Guess so."
<mainstreet> "But... but I want this!" Amirith pouts, her tongue lolling out.
<Nergui> "Amirith, I was banished because I have dragon heritage, and I'm a princess. What would happen if you had children with a baron?"
<mainstreet> Amirith shakes her head. "I... that would happen? Well... we'd burn them down if they tried anything like that!"
<Nergui> "Burn them down? Nearly the entire empire would be after you. Would you burn them all down? I want to work to change the empire, so that people like you and I would be accepted."
<Fir> "He might not be Baron for very long if you did that," Fir mutters, momentarily wishing she was a cool wizard with telepathic spells so she could actually say things to Nergui instead of muttering them at Mercy, in hiding.
<mainstreet> "I... maybe I should just take over outright, MAKE them accept me. I'm a DRAGON, I don't have to listen to what mere humans want!"
<Nergui> "They will never accept force. There are too many humans, and some of them are very powerful."
<Nergui> "Why force them, when you can make them beg to serve a creature as majestic as you?" Kiyomi adds
<Nergui> "It'll take time, but it'll be worth it," Kiyomi finishes.
<mainstreet> "I..." Amirith sighs and mutters something long and complicated. You notice Eric start to shift... and become human again. "I assume you already fixed the well? I don't need to do anything... Fine, I'll help." She looks over at Eric. "Will you promise not to hurt me later if I let you go now?"
<mainstreet> Eric gulps and looks over at Nergui. "I don't want to do that, but I have a feeling if I don't I'm going to have a very angry Princess in my face, and I want that even less, so... yeah, I'm willing to forget this all happened."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy blinks. "Did she just talk down a *dragon*?"
- Magwitch watches other people changing shape and appearance.
<Fir> "Yes...yes, she did."
<mainstreet> "Okay." Amirith looks over at Nergui. "If you're seriously promising to make the Empire a more accepting place for dragons, I'm yours. What would you have of me?"
- Fir 's jaw drops a little as she hears the dragon say that.
<Fir> "I wanna dragon to ask ME for orders someday," she says, eyes bright.
<Capn_Mercy> "I wanna kill a dragon someday. ...well, you know. An actually evil one."
<Nergui> "First, I should take stock of all the assets available to me. Part of that is knowing how well you can work in human society."
<Fir> "Missed your chance then," Fir tells Mercy. She takes her vial of Slipstream back from Mercy, then walks toward Nergui, figuring it was safe to do so now.
<mainstreet> Amirith herself starts to shift. A few seconds later, you see a young woman dressed in a sleek blue dress with blonde hair cascading down to her waist. Her eyes are a shockingly cold blue and her face projects an aura of menace, matched by the rest of her body. "I can look human."
<Magwitch> Magwitch rides into camp and conversation, baritone booming "While we're on the topic of cultural revolution, will society ever accept pariahs who look like this?" It deactivates the Hat of Disguise, revealing a diminutive imp with horns and huge hands. Its abdomen is distended by a large tumour. It looks hideous. "I suspect not."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy meanders down after Fir. "Society is overrated. I prefer roughing it."
<Fir> "I think you look kinda like a baobab," Fir says brightly.
<Nergui> "It is something that can be worked on."
<Fir> "Nergui is like a pine. Mercy reminds me more of a maple, I guess. Kiyomi is like one of those Japanese maples. Gaart is a sequoia. Dragon lady here...a blue spruce."
<Fir> "No, not a maple," Fir adds, looking at Mercy again. "Oak."
<Magwitch> "It doesn't sound nearly so bad when you put it like that, Fir."
<Capn_Mercy> "Why oak? 'Cause I'm tall and strong?"
<Fir> "And spread yourself all over the place."
<Capn_Mercy> "Who told--I mean, no I don't!" She huffs.
<Fir> "Your arms are practically as long as my body, and you swing them when you walk," Fir insists.
<Nergui> "These are some of my...associates. I'll have to introduce you to my other mi - associates another time."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy blinks. "...oh. Heh. Yeah, I guess that's true."
- Fir looks back at the dragon lady, wooden eyes wide in awe. "Is she joining us?" Fir asks Nergui. "Are we going to skip all the other stuff we were hired to do and go straight to putting you back on your throne or whatever?"
- Magwitch feels reassured to be referred to by a princess as an associate despite being out of disguise. Maybe things /can/ change!
<Nergui> "Since we've had so many reveals today...Kiyomi?"
<Nergui> Kiyomi nods hesitantly, then sprouts reddish fur all over, fox ears, and two bushy tails
<Nergui> Her mask is pushed aside as her face grows a fox-like muzzle, complete with adorable whiskers
<Nergui> "I have a lot of motivation to make nonhumans more acceptable around here," Nergui comments
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy watches this, looks at everyone else, then at herself, seemingly the only full-blooded human in the group. "I'm not going to turn into something too, am I?"
- Fir cocks her head to the side and eyes Kiyomi. "Kinda want to go with orange tree instead of Japanese maple now."
<Magwitch> Looking around at the Eric giants, the humanoid dragon, the transformed noble, the fox-like being, and finally itself, Magwitch wonders aloud, "Is /anybody/ here themselves?"
<Fir> "I am. Unless I turn back into a vine."
<Nergui> "Well, the only shapeshifting I can do is growing claws and more scales, so I guess I'm myself?"
<Capn_Mercy> "I'm pretty sure I'm just a normal, violent human."
<mainstreet> Eric reminds you all of his presence. "Are we going to head back to town now, or are you asking me to go through the desert on my own?"
<Nergui> "Ah, yes. Let's all take the forms we'll be wearing when we get to town. Amirith, come along, at least long enough for us to finish talking."
- Fir takes a moment to cast Create Water into the well a few times, hoping to refill the giants' supply and make it ever so slightly less dry around here.
<mainstreet> The well is full up, but it still feels pretty dry here. It's still a desert.
- Nergui puts her helmet back on as Kiyomi resumes human form and fixes her mask
<Fir> As she follows the others back to the river, Fir continues to snap her fingers and say the same word over again, leaving a trail of wet patches of ground behind her as she goes.
<mainstreet> Amirith and Eric move to follow the group.
- Magwitch offers The Big Friendly Giant a handful of Goodberries, saying, "Each one of these is a full meal. If a giant gets violently ravenous, you can give them a berry. They should all be better in a couple of days."
<mainstreet> Gaart nods. "Thank you."
- Magwitch resumes the disguise of a halfling.
<Nergui> "We'll need a cover story for where Eric was."
<mainstreet> You all make it back to Valgate, and Eric proudly announces his return to the city! There is much rejoicing and a quick impromptu party set up and everyone has a good time! People do wonder where Eric was, but Eric spins some half-truths, blaming much on "a dragon", though fortunately being vague on the details, and everyone just swallows it right up! As a Party, you're not in much position to protest this, because you know that
<mainstreet> Eric can simply have Nergui arrested if you piss him off too much.
- Fir wanders around the party, enjoying people-watching.
<Magwitch> "I hope the celebrations and welcoming are enough to soothe any ill-will Eric may have had over his unexpected excursion."
<mainstreet> You find Flynn again, learn that going downriver is so easy it's a mere 5 gold for the whole group, and make it back to Kandar. You quickly check in with Gerard V and recieve your payment of a clean 3000 gold each.
<mainstreet> Gerard reiterates the two open quests he still has for your group:
<mainstreet> "We have heard disturbing rumors of pirates attacking ships in the Transverse Ocean. If you are interested in work, you could offer to serve as security escort for a ship leaving Alharia or Elkor. Stopping the pirates is quite important work, unfortunately the Emperor will not authorize direct military action involving shipping vessels yet. Kandar, as the vital trading center, will suffer if we wait that long."
<mainstreet> Gerard: "Xalrin’s (now two) most recent tribute transports for Metros have gone missing before they even made it as far as Kandar. There are three possibilities: The Tribute was intended and sent correctly, but was intercepted and stolen en route, the Count is rebelling against the Emperor, and thus, needs to be dealt with, or the Count has been deposed from outside his family without the knowledge of the other cities. Xalrin is a quite isolated city and it might well be possible to conceal a coup. In any of these cases, as we have been asked to investigate by His Majesty, we would pay quite well for a resolution. In the first case, recovery of the tribute and delivery to the Emperor would satisfy us. In the third case, if the rightful Count is still alive, or an eligible heir of his, the Emperor will pay quite generously to rectify the situation.
<mainstreet> If no heirs can be found, or if the ruling family is in rebellion, please simply report back to us with this information and we will follow up and deal with it, possibly with a more explicit request, possibly not."
<Fir> "Are either of these more time sensitive than the other?"
<Magwitch> "Are either particularly more pressing? Because they both sound like they'll take some considerable time to resolve thoroughly so one of them may have to wait."
<mainstreet> "We really can't afford to keep missing tributes. If a third one goes missing we will have to start sending a very large and extensive investigative team that will go beyond an adventuring team. Or rather, House Metros will have to do this. If we can resolve this on our end before that happens, the city will gain much favor in the Empire, and I will pay generously. The piracy is a more perennial problem."
<Magwitch> "Our course sounds clear in that case."
- Fir nods in agreement.
<Fir> "That tribute one."
<Capn_Mercy> "By 'tribute' I assume you means heaping mounds of treasure??"
<mainstreet> Gerard clears his throat. "While I will reward you substantially, that 'treasure' as you put it is the property of House Metros, the Imperial Family of the Meterrian Empire, and rightfully belongs to them, so I cannot approve of you simply taking it."
<Nergui> "If you all want to help with the tribute, I suppose I have little choice but to join in. We can talk about it while we travel."
<mainstreet> Gerard frowns at the well-armored woman but doesn't comment.
<Capn_Mercy> "Oh, no no no, I won't steal it or anything. I just kind of want to look at it. Maybe...y'know, hold it for a bit. Just to feel what it's like."
<Capn_Mercy> "Yeah, Nergui, we do have a lot to talk about..."
- Nergui clears her throat. "I do swear that I will do all I can to make sure the tribute ends up with the rightful owner."
- Fir pats Mercy in a way that would be patronizing if it wasn't to the back of her calf. "Some thoughts should stay in your head, you know."
<mainstreet> "Glad to hear it."
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---